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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        25  February 2011

Singapore's Tiger Airways acquires Philippines' Seair

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A war among Asia's low-cost air carriers is erupting up in the Philippine market as Singapore-based Tiger Airways announced it will purchase a majority stake in Manila's Southeast Asian Airlines (Seair). In a statement, Tiger Airways said it will purchase a 32.5 percent stake in Seair Inc. for $6 million.

Tony Davis, Tiger Airways Holdings president and group chief executive, said the Philippines represents a major market opportunity for budget airlines.

Avelino Zapanta, Seair president and chief executive, said the entry of Tiger Airways will enable the Philippine company to significantly expand its network of services. Seair had entered a lease agreement with Tiger Airways for two Airbus aircraft that will be used for the former's regional flights, particularly to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Macau.

Operating the same low-cost business model as Tiger Airways, Seair will offer the lowest possible fares to both international and domestic travelers in the Philippines.

It will offer short-haul, point-to-point flights within a five-hour flying radius, using Airbus A320s and crew based in the Philippines.

Seair recently announced the commencement of a daily service between Manila-Clark and Hong Kong and because of the strong demand on this new route, services will double every day starting April 15.

The airline also flies between Manila-Clark and Singapore, and serves 18 Philippine destinations, including Caticlan (Boracay) and Cebu in the Visayas; Clark in Northern Luzon; Busuanga, Cuyo, El Nido, Puerto Princesa and Rodriguez in Palawan Province; and Camiguin, Cotobato, Zamboanga, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao.

At present, the airline has 11 aircraft, of which four are Dornier 328s and seven Let 410 UVP-Es.

Earlier, Air Asia International Ltd. partnered with Antonio Cojuangco Jr., Michael Romero and Marianne Hontiveros to form a Philippine unit of the Malaysian LCC.

Air Asia will hold a 40-percent equity in Air Asia Inc., through AA International, while the remaining 60-percent will be held in equal partnership by Cojuangco, Romero and Hontiveros. The new company will be called Air Asia Philippines and is expected to mount its first flight on September 1.

Another budget carrier Jetstar Airways had said it would establish a Philippine hub.

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